Lancashire 311 (Hooper 77, Cork 77*, FIsher 5-114) are level with Gloucestershire 311 for 8 dec

Ian Fisher: five wickets and the crucial catch helped send Lancashire down © Getty Images

Lancashire's slim hopes of avoiding relegation finally disappeared shortly after 4pm, when an attempted hook from Andy Crook was held in the deep by Ian Fisher at a damp Old Trafford. It gave Gloucestershire their second bowling point, ensuring their own safety, and consigned the pre-season title favourites to the drop.

A delayed start did not help Lancashire's cause, and when play did start an hour late, they faced an almost impossible task. They needed to score either 300 for 2 or 400 for 5 or better, thus depriving Gloucestershire of vital bonus points, and then force a win. It was always going to be beyond them.

Mark Chilton and Iain Sutcliffe made a cautious start, reaching 40 for 0 at lunch, and they took that to 87 before the dismissal of Chilton for 47 triggered a collapse in which Lancashire lost four wickets for 23 runs.

Carl Hooper and Glen Chapple stopped the rot in a fifth-wicket stand of 44 before Martyn Ball bowled Chapple for 10, his third wicket of the day. Hooper offered some dogged resistance, and Dominic Cork ensured that the home supporters had something to cheer with a 70-ball 77 not out, which included six sixes. But the real battle was by then over.

In addition to taking the crucial catch, the Yorkshire-born Fisher finished with 5 for 114.